Tester Presses Experts on Best Ways to Address Housing Shortages in Montana During Senate Banking Hearing

Senator: “There’s not a place I go in Montana… that there aren’t housing challenges”

As part of his continued focus on addressing accessible housing shortages across Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today questioned policy experts during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the most effective ways for the federal government to bring down costs and boost the supply of housing in rural communities.

During his remarks, Tester emphasized that he frequently hears about challenges with high costs and lack of access to housing as he travels across Montana: “Look, there’s not a place I go in Montana, whether it’s a very small town or the bigger ones – and our bigger ones are about 100,000, so the small ones are much, much smaller than that – that there aren’t housing challenges. And some of it is no housing is available, and others… the housing is there, but it’s dilapidated.” 

Tester specifically asked housing experts their thoughts on the most effective action the federal government could take to help address housing shortages: “I believe in supply and demand… Mr. Josephs, you said that [we are] 3.8 million houses too short, and until that comes up, until we fix that supply problem, we’re going to see housing prices continue to elevate faster than a lot of other things. So my question to you is… What can the federal government do to release those folks who want to invest in housing, to urge them to build more?”

As part of his response to Tester’s question, housing policy expert Matt Josephs praised the senator’s bipartisan Rural Housing Services Reform Act“You also talked about a bill that would incentivize housing built in rural and native communities called theRural Housing Reform Act,” said Tester. Mr. Josephs testified that the Tester-backed bill would help with “preservation of existing housing” that is in need of repair.

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion for rural housing accessibility. In November, Tester introduced his Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) Act – legislation that would revitalize Montana’s affordable housing supply by establishing a manufactured housing community improvement grant program. And in September, Tester introduced his bipartisan Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023 – legislation which would improve federal rural housing programs, cut government red tape, and strengthen the supply of affordable housing across Montana.

Tester also questioned community development experts during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in October on potential solutions to expand housing opportunities in high growth areas.

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester has consistently secured major wins for housing in Montana. As part of the FY24 Government Funding package that Tester backed last week, the Senator secured $1.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, $10 million for the PRICE grant program, $158 million for Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks), $12 million for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP), $1.344 billion for Native American Housing Programs, and $6.7 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program for local economic, community development, and housing-related projects. Tester was Montana’s only Senator to vote for this funding. Tester also secured significant housing resources in the FY23 Government Funding bill.


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